How long should I expect recovery to take place?

The average rebuilding period is 3-5 years.  Some survivors rebuild much faster and some much slower.  As for the emotional wounds that’s a much more complicated issue.

The disaster was probably one of the most traumatic experiences of your life.  It is part of you now and you will remember it for the rest of your life.  Even years later, you will probably vividly remember the day.

In a study done by Echterling in 1993 on survivors of a flood, “74% of the direct victims experienced intrusive memories just after the flood, but 37% of the survivors still reported this symptom seven years later. The percentage of those experiencing emotional distress due to the flood decreased the most sharply over the seven years–from 93% to 8%.”

Good news

Architect drafting, Photo by Daniel McCullough on Unsplash
Photo by Daniel McCullough on Unsplash

The good news is that in the long run, many people find that they have grown in a positive direction due to the disaster.  “64% of the survivors stated seven years later that the disaster experience had affected their thinking about the goodness of life. Since the flood was the single most destructive event in their lives, it seems only reasonable to assume that the disaster would affect survivors’ opinions about the benevolence of life. However, surprisingly, a large majority–75%–of the subjects whose beliefs changed reported that these changes actually were for the better. As one woman said, ‘It made me stop and think of how fortunate I was.’ Another explained, ‘I’m thankful we are still here and it’s good to be alive.’ ‘I don’t take anything for granted,’ declared one man. ‘I realized how lucky we are for what we have and we almost lost it all….It put things into perspective.'”

-(the previous two quotes were taken from: Lennis G. Echterling, Ph.D., James Madison University)

You should know that going to see a councilor is okay.  It is normal to feel psychological pain after a disaster.  It is also okay to find other ways to reduce the stress. Talking to friends, family and other disaster survivors can help.  In the January 2006 issue of Better Homes and Gardens there was an article titled: “Write it off: Journal writing is one of the best ways to deal with stress [and] sorrow…” 

In the end, everyone has their own path to recovery.  Don’t push yourself to fit into anyone else’s mold.